Building green walls

Green Studios — Lebanon’s Top 20

Green Studios founders Oliver Wehbe and Jamil Corbani

This company is part of Executive’s Top 20 in science and technology. Read more stories of our special report on entrepreneurship in Lebanon, as they’re published here.

 

Green Studios

Zeina Kronfol

Zeina Kronfol

Jamil Corbani

Jamil Corbani

Industry: Eco Tech & Design/Real estate development

Year of incorporation: 2009

Employees: 25, 21 of which are in Lebanon

Board of directors: Yes, five members

Founders: Jamil Corbani, Zeina Kronfol, Oliver Wehbe, Marc Abihaila

 

To help cure the drab of dusty and polluted urban Middle Eastern settings, Green Studios uses both sides of the brain. At once a tech and design company, they design green roofs and walls based on a patented technology they have developed employing hydroponics. With the technology able to withstand the harshest desert climates, the company is apt to grow wildly into the Middle East.

The technology they developed consists of a sponge on which plants can grow, both horizontally and vertically. Using hydroponics, the sponge is designed to retain a very high concentration of water per square meter even under the sweltering heat of Arabian lands. In fact, cofounder Jamil Corbani boasts that water absorption of the sponge can last up to three days in the harshest of deserts, and up to a week in milder climates. The sponge also has an integrated technology, what Corbani calls the “smart” component, which are sensors and nano-sensors that measure humidity, temperature, electro-conductivity, and other KPIs essential to a plant’s health. All of this monitoring is transferred to an electrical board, which understands what the plants need, and gives orders for pumps to go on or off, pumping water and mineral-nutrient solutions through the sponge’s irrigation network.

The price of such a techie and sightly product depends a lot on how tough the project is, how rough the climatic conditions, and the complexity of the system they are installing, explains Corbani. But he adds that it can vary from $70–80 dollars to $100–120 per square foot. They also offer a warranty that can go up to 35 years with fixed rates per seven year periods, including maintenance.

Unsurprisingly, this type of offering has wooed the hearts of higher-end clients, such as the upper echelons of real estate developers, architectural and engineering companies, as well as governments rolling in petro-dollars that have pledged themselves to make their cities more green. Between completed projects and those still in the works, Green Studios has tallied up about 45 according to Corbani. The projects under their belt are mostly in Lebanon with a handful in other locales in the region.

With considerable growth over the past year, and revenues going from $630,000 to $1.15 million between their 2013 and 2014 fiscal years which closed in August, they have invested most of their profits into growth preparations. This includes land assets, new machines, developing new ways to produce green walls faster, research and development to further advance their smart system, and more manpower by way of engineers and technicians to train and dispatch in the Arab world.

Their world domination tactics will start in the region. They are in talks with public and private entities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Jeddah among others. Over the next couple of years, they plan to follow an aggressive expansion into the MENA region, as well as starting a shy push in the American market which they want to move into once they have some sort of domination over the Middle East. They are currently in negotiations to raise $1.5 million for their regional expansion.

Livia Murray

Livia covers business, finance and economic policy for Executive.

Thomas Schellen

Thomas Schellen is Executive's editor-at-large. He has been reporting on Middle Eastern business and economy for over 20 years.

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